Here’s a little write up about Anime USA 2012. I’ll give you a little overview of the convention and tell you some of my experiences while there.
Anime USA is a predominately anime convention in Washington, D.C. This year it was at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel about 5 miles inside the D.C. border. The convention took place November 9-11, 2012, that’s Friday through Sunday. The convention offered 3 day passes, 2 day passes and 1 day passes. You could purchase tickets at the door for $60, $50 and $35 respectively. Anime USA also offered the option of preregistration which Joepool an I took advantage of, we both got 3 day passes for $50 each. When we picked up our passes Friday morning the lines for purchasing and picking up passes were pretty short and moved very fast. Whenever I walked by the ticket area there didn’t seem to be too much of a line which is definitely nice. Attendees could also get 18+ wristbands to go to the host club, burlesque show and other adult events. When I got mine there was quite a bit of confusion about where to pick it up but I think the wrist bands are a good idea because you don’t have to get your ID checked every time you want t go in and out of adult events. The hotel itself was very nice. It was quite beautiful with lots of locations inside and out for photoshoots. It was a little confusing at first because the con was spread out on a couple different floors and in multiple areas but you get the hang of it eventually. It would have been helpful if there were more signs pointing the way, especially in the main lobby where you first walk in. Artist alley and the video game room were especially hard to locate at first, both were on the same floor as registration and the dealers room but you had to walk all the way across the hotel to a different escalator to access them. In the hotels favor there were lots of elevators, escalators and stairs that made getting around easy and there were lots of really large bathrooms. Joepool and I didn’t get a hotel room, we happen to live very close to the convention so we just drove there and back everyday. I’m very glad we didn’t get a hotel room though, I heard from multiple people that rooms weren’t what they reserved and I saw a friends room and really wasn’t impressed with the amenities, can you believe rooms didn’t have hair dryers? The hotel staff also wasn’t very helpful or accommodating, seeming almost rude at times. Parking wasn’t available for con goers who didn’t have a hotel room. On Friday a hotel staff person told us to park one and a half miles away at a local college where we’d have to walk back to the hotel in costume in the cold. We ended up finding street parking just a block away and although we were scared we might get a ticket we didn’t the entire weekend. I would have been more than happy to pay for parking at the hotel, I always account for parking expenses when figuring out my convention budget. Although the parking situation sucked it was super convenient that there was a metro stop almost on the hotel grounds. The metro runs pretty late at night and isn’t too expensive, it’s a great option for people in the area that don’t want to worry about a hotel room or paying for parking. One other thing in the hotels favor is that there are restaurants just down the street if people don’t want to buy food at the hotel all weekend. Joepool and I went to Chipotle and Lebanese Taverna with our friends but there was also Chinese food, a sushi restaurant and McDonald’s. There was also a CVS just a block away. The Marriott at Wardman Park is a nice change of venue from the old hotel Anime USA used to be at. Fortunately for me I live in the area because I wasn’t impressed enough with the hotel to want to get a room for next year.
Now to talk about the convention itself. Anime USA like most other conventions has the usual fare in terms of entertainment. There are panels going on throughout the weekend, a dealers’ room and artist alley, a manga library, a video game room and rooms where anime and movies are playing. Anime USA also has costume contests, a masquerade, a formal ball and a rave. Cosplay burlesque also put on shows both Friday and Saturday night. The hotel restaurant also accommodated the Maid Cafe and Host Club Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately I didn’t get to attend any panels. Due to Hurricane Sandy many panelists and volunteers weren’t able to come to the con. A few panels that I was interested in going to we’re canceled and the schedule in general was all wonky. It was pretty much out of people hands because of the natural disaster which is understandable although I was still disappointed. The video game room had a good variety of games but it was pretty small. I played a little Mortal Kombat and got roped into DDR even though I’m really terrible at it. Artist alley was really small and I think maybe some of the artists couldn’t make it because of the hurricane. A lot of stalls were empty but the artists that were there had some really nice stuff. The dealers room was a reasonable size, I do understand that Anime USA is a small con in general. I thought many of the products on display were really overpriced and I didn’t end up buying anything. The only thing other than food I spent my money on that weekend was preregistration for Katsucon, they had a booth in the dealers room. I also felt it was kind of a strange policy not to allow photography in the dealers’ room, I felt really bad telling people they couldn’t take pictures while we were in there. Anime USA has raves Friday and Saturday night. I went to the Friday night rave but I didn’t find it very enjoyable so I left after only about 30 minutes. For me the music just wasn’t something I could dance to, at times the beat was super-fast then would change drastically to something very slow. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the rave Saturday night because Joepool and I were pretty much kicked out but I’ll talk more about that later. This was the first year that I’ve ever been to a maid cafe or host club and I attended both at Anime USA. Like I said, I had never been to either before so it was something new for me and I didn’t know what to expect. If you don’t know, it’s like any other restaurant really except that the maids and hosts that wait on you sit and chat and hang out while you’re there. It’s almost like Hooters but with less cleavage. You can also have your maid or host feed you and you can pay for pictures and games to play. All the proceeds go to funding the cafe or host club next year, you aren’t allowed to tip. I had a really good time at both the maid cafe and host club. Our maid was super kawaii and we played Jenga which was quite hilarious. Our host fed my friend cheesecake and the food wasn’t terrible. I definitely look forward to going again next year. The only other thing I attended was the Anime USA Masquerade that also featured the Saturday costume contest walk ons. With the exception of one very peculiar skit I though everyone did a really great job on stage. Things were well planned out and everyone practiced and most were pretty funny. The costume contest contestants also did a super job, I was really impressed with all the costumes. I’m also so proud and happy that my friends Sarah Fong and Han Pan both got first place in their costume divisions on Saturday. Both of these ladies are amazing costumers and they deserve the accolades. Unfortunately the hurricane hit Anime USA pretty hard but they did the best they could under the circumstances, hopefully next year things work out better and the convention will be running more smoothly.
Now to talk about Cosplay! I saw lots of amazing costumes and cosplayers at Anime USA this year. Some of the more well know cosplayers I saw were Lady Ava, Uxi Cosplay, Pork Buns, Mostflogged and Cupcake Cosplay which is the combination of Breathlessaire and Starlighthoney. All these ladies are people I look up to in the cosplay community and they all had amazing costumes. Joepool and I cosplayed all three days of the convention. Friday was classic Cartoon Network characters, I was Buttercup from the Powerpuff Girls and Joepool was Samurai Jack. We were cosplaying with our friends Sarah Fong (https://www.facebook.com/SarahFongCosplay) and Alex who were Blossom and Bubbles respectively, all the costumes were made by me. Saturday we did a Street Fighter group. Joepool was Ryu and I was Makoto, we were with our friends again. Sarah was wearing her brand new Ibuki costume that won the first place prize in the novice division of the costume contest on Saturday and Alex was wearing a Sakura costume made by Sarah. Sunday Joepool and I were cosplaying from the Yu Yu Hakusho movie. I was Yoko Kurama and he was Kuronue. Joepool and I worked on his Kuronue costume together. I had lots of fun with all three of my costumes and we got some really great pictures. I want to give a special thanks to Elysiam Entertainment (https://www.facebook.com/elysiamguild), P Karpey Photography (https://www.facebook.com/pages/P-Karpey-Photography) and Felix Wong Photography (https://www.facebook.com/felix.wong.photography) for doing photo shoots with us; we really appreciate all their hard work. Luckily for me I didn’t have any costume mishaps this convention. Everything stayed in place and most of the costumes were relatively comfortable. The only problem I had was with the convention and hotel staff on Saturday while Joepool and I were wearing our Street Fighter costumes. Apparently we aren’t allowed to walk around the hotel bare foot. I wasn’t aware of that at all throughout the day until about 9 pm when people started stopping me. I have since then checked the Anime USA website for their policies and it doesn’t say anything about footwear or the lack thereof that I’m aware of, please correct me if I’m wrong. Because we came from home we didn’t even bring shoes with us so essentially we were told to leave. I realize the con staff is just doing their job but it would have been nice if it had said in the list of policies that shoes must be worn at all times because I figured it would be okay since we were inside. So for that reason we weren’t able to go to the Saturday night rave even though I was really looking forward to it. People are always weirded out that Joepool and I don’t wear shoes when the costume calls for it, for us it’s just going that extra step to make the costume as authentic and true to character as possible.
So in conclusion, I had a really enjoyable time at Anime USA 2012. However, it was mostly due to my awesome group of con hugs because the convention itself wasn’t that great. I can honestly say that if the convention wasn’t right down the street from me I probably wouldn’t go and I especially wouldn’t waste my money paying for a long distance trip and hotel room.
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written by Kris Lee